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The Making of "Mossy Cave Trail in Infrared"

Our September, 2012 Photo Contest Winner · Posted on 11-14-2012 in Photo Contests
The Making of
Pictured above is atnbirdie's "Mossy Cave Trail in Infrared", the winner of our September "Forests" photo contest.  Let's take a look at how this photo was shot and processed!

Equipment List

  • Camera: Pentax K100D with sensor modified for infrared (only) photography
  • Lens: DA 18-55mm  @ 18mm
  • Shutter Speed: 1/125s
  • Aperture: f/11
  • ISO: 200
  • Processing: GIMP and Apple Aperture

Pentax K100DPentax 18-55mm

 

Comments from the Photographer:

As the title states, I took this picture on the Mossy Cave Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park, UT.  As you leave the Mossy Cave site itself, the trail winds back down toward the creek in the valley bottom which you can see in the picture.  The view from this vantage point caught my eye by how the tree trunk and limb and all the trees framed the view of the creek below. 

Processing

I process all my RAW IR shots in Aperture and the GIMP.  The RAW image is quite reddish looking so I initially use Aperture to set the white balance using vegetation (which is whitish in IR) as my reference point. In the GIMP, I do major adjustments like channel swapping, then fine tune the result in Aperture if needed.  Once I've set the WB in Aperture, I work in the GIMP using layers to make my adjustments so I can tweak individual adjustments if I need to later.  I first swap the red and blue color channels making red 100% blue and blue 100% red.  This makes the shot look closer to "normal" as the sky is often brownish and vegetation slightly bluish before the swap. Next, I use the Auto Normalize function to set the white and black points to increase contrast as IR shots can be rather flat.  I'll adjust contrast if the auto adjustment is too severe.  Finally, I'll use the hue/saturation or color balance tools to adjust RGB layers to get the final effect I like.  In this case, rather than stark white vegetation I wanted plants to appear somewhat creamy.  I also tweaked the sky to appear a little violet rather than pure blue.  Back in Aperture, I didn't make any adjustments on this particular photo, but this is where I usually will make final minor tweaks like edge sharpening or sometimes some minor exposure adjustments.  For example, in retrospect I probably could have tamed the highlights a little with the highlights "recovery" tool.

Original Photo

Here's the same photo without any processing:

Original IR Photo
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Leave A Comment

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neuropol [Delete] Nov 16th, 2012 8:24AM

Nice photo. I like the job you did with editing. I've been really impressed with the K-5, unmodified, using an 870nm filter on the front of the lens. I get a little bit of the 'hot spot' from the aperture when stopping down so I need to refine my technique a little bit. I will say that the K-5 outperforms my two previous cameras with a similar setup. I also have a Fujifilm S3 Pro which I have modified myself. It has no replacement filter installed so it's just the raw sensor doing the work. Given the performance of the K-5 and the modified Fuji, I'd like to find a good used Pentax DSLR in order to have it full time modified. Looking forward to it.

alexcox [Delete] Nov 15th, 2012 9:31AM

DIGITAL SILVER IMAGING just converted my K10D to IR. They did an excellent job and returned the camera within two weeks. And they're currently having a sale (till end November) on IR conversions; will convert a DSLR or hybrid to IR for $199.

The comment section won't permit me to include a link to their site but you can do a search and find them easily. They're in MA.

Medium FormatPro [Delete] Nov 15th, 2012 6:36AM

To Zygonyx, If the camera was owned by you the you should file a police report.

icy [Delete] Nov 15th, 2012 5:12AM

So sorry to hear that Zygonyx :(

Zygonyx [Delete] Nov 15th, 2012 1:18AM

Hello,
Be carefull with some unreliable companies : i have sent my *istDS for sensor modification abour one year ago to SPENCER CAMERA, got the reception mail from them in december 2011, and since i have not any news of the work done, despite several reminder e-mails.
It seems thay have kept both the body and the DA21mm Ltd i asked them to calibrate with infra-red adaptation.
My advise is therefore : avoid SPENCER CAMERA.